Nigeria yesterday recalled its ambassador to Libya following President Muammar Gaddafi’s suggestion that the country be partitioned between Muslims and Christians. He made the remark while commenting on the incessant clash between adherents of both religions.
The spokesman of the foreign affairs ministry, Ozo Nwobu in a statement described the statement of Gaddafi as “irresponsible utterances” which had made a mockery of his calls for African integration and unity.
He said “Our ambassador in Tripoli has been recalled for urgent consultations.”, adding that the Libyan leader’s comments had “diminished his status and credibility.”
At the House of Reprsentatives the former Speaker Patricia Etteh, and Patrick Obahiagbon (PDP Edo) led some members to call for caution as lawmakers angrily condemned Gaddafi for his advice that Nigeria should split.
Mrs. Etteh said although she found no support for Mr. Gaddafi’s controversial remark, “a word,” she cautioned, “is enough for the wise.”
“The Libyan leader’s comment is unfortunate and unnecessary, yet we have to look inward and digest it. We may discard the messenger, but accept the message,” the three-term lawmaker told her irate colleagues who used several invectives on Mr. Gaddafi for calling for separate Christian and Muslim homelands out of Nigeria.
The comment published by Jena, Libyan state media, has attracted mixed, but passionate reactions from Nigerians, with government officials sharply criticising the stand while some Nigerians on the blogosphere have argued in support of the radical leader.
In reaction to the Senate President, David Mark’s labelling of Mr. Gaddafi as a “madman” for the comments, a writer called “Father Makurdi” responding to the NEXT story, said, “A mad man has made sense on a very sensitive issue. So it is right for this mad man to receive an apology from a sane man who has misused his tongue.”
A little respect is necessary
The former Speaker of the House called for similar caution, advising that members choose their words against Mr. Gadaffi, who “as a leader of a sovereign nation, deserved some respect.”
Mrs. Etteh said Nigerians must face the realities of the nation presently and work to shame such predictions, rather than condemn it.
Dino Melaye said even if Mr. Gaddafi is not â€˜mad’, he finds nothing sane in a man more than 80 years, remaining in a military uniform, and also at a single rank of Colonel for more than 40 years.
“Maybe I can refer to him as a former madman,” Mr. Melaye said of the man renowned for contentious comments.
Mr. Obahiagbon raised the first differing opinion after many vitriolic attacks from members. He said Nigerians have been too quick in dismissing predictions related to the unity of the country, but have failed to stay off the indicators of such potential split.
“About 10 years ago, Americans said we will not last beyond 2015 and we quarreled, yet every day we are inching towards that direction,” said Mr. Obahiagbon.
The House resolved through a motion presented by Halims Agoda, from Delta State, to invite the Libyan envoy to Nigeria to register its displeasure over the comments, and also urge the leader to discontinue with his “attacks” on Nigeria.
It rejected the suggestion of a member who advised that the Nigerian ambassador be recalled from Libya as a protest. In its place, it resolved to invite the envoy for “consultations.”